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NFL, IFAF announce Vikings WR Justin Jefferson as global flag football ambassador

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is the latest NFL Pro Bowl player to become a global flag football ambassador.

Along with Torry Holt and Mike Rucker, Jefferson will be added to the all-star team of men and women, including current American and flag football players, legends, coaches and officials, as ambassadors who will work together to further raise the profile and promote the unique values of one of the world's fastest-growing sports.

Holt and Rucker will appear at the 2023 IFAF Americas Continental Flag Football Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina. Activated by USA Football and IFAF, the boys' and girls' tournaments will be held from Wednesday, July 5 to Friday, July 7. Holt, a Gibsonville, North Carolina native, and Rucker, who resides in Charlotte, will promote the growth of flag and bring awareness to this global event.

The Flag Football Ambassadors team – first announced ahead of the NFL's 2022 Kickoff – supports the combined global efforts of the NFL and IFAF to increase awareness, interest, and participation in flag football internationally and drive forward the development of the game.

"Flag Football is an awesome sport and a great way for kids to learn some of the fundamentals of football," Jefferson said. "I was able to play in the first Pro Bowl Games with Flag Football as a sport, and it was an incredible experience for me. I love the pace and the concepts of Flag, that is why I am so excited about becoming a Global Flag Football Ambassador. It is truly a sport for all, and I can't wait to work with the NFL to help continue the growth of this great game."

Earlier this year, the NFL celebrated the transformation of the Pro Bowl, renaming the tentpole event as the Pro Bowl Games. The week-long celebration of player skills, which took place in Las Vegas, featured an exciting new format that highlighted flag football. In addition to the AFC-NFC flag games on Sunday, Feb. 5, the Pro Bowl Games integrated flag throughout the week, including the Play Football Opening Night and NFL FLAG Championships, created in partnership with RCX Sports, which featured the top girls' and boys' youth flag teams from across the country and around the world.

"I am super excited and honored to join a distinguished group of Global Flag Football Ambassadors, said NFL legend Torry Holt, a Super Bowl XXXIV champion with the St. Louis Rams. "Football changed my life! Now I have an opportunity to give back to our football community alongside of the NFL and IFAF. Our goal is to continue to increase awareness, interest, and participation in flag football internationally while pushing forward the development of the sport".

Currently played by people of all genders and all ages in more than 100 countries around the world, flag football is poised for even greater expansion as the cornerstone of the NFL's domestic and international participation and development strategies. Momentum is growing behind the sport following its debut at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, last year with IFAF preparing to launch the biggest-ever cycle of elite international flag competition, including full continental representation for the first time in 2023. Flag is a fast-paced, non-contact, creative and highly skilled format that benefits from being easily accessible and inclusive, making it the perfect vehicle to attract new players, accelerate growth and promote the message of football for all.

"It's a true honor to be able help, share and grow this game we call flag football," said Carolina Panthers legend Mike Rucker, who spent nine seasons with the team. "I'll never forget the first time I was introduced to flag at a girls jamboree in Charlotte. I could instantly see the future and how this game could help bring people together from all walks of life. On that field, I saw the next generation of scholarships athletes, coaches, GMs, and scouts. I'm truly excited to help this game continue to grow throughout our schools and around the world!"

The global appeal of these international athletes highlights the scope and ambition of the group to grow the game worldwide but also points to the impact international players have on the NFL itself.

Among the previously announced ambassadors with international ties:

  • Desiree Abrams, who made a name for herself on the international stage as a member of the officiating teams that oversaw flag football at the World Games the IFAF World Flag Football Championships in 2018 and 2021, and the IFAF Women's World Championship in 2022. In 2016, founded the National Women's Football Officials Association that seeks to accelerate opportunities for female officials in football.
  • Andrea Castillo, whowon the bronze medal at the 2022 World Games for the Panama women's flag football team.
  • Elisa De Santis, who played flag football for Team France since she was 15 years old.
  • Diana Flores, the starting quarterback for the Mexico women's team who won the gold at the 2022 World Games by defeating the USA. Has been a member of Mexico's national team since 2014 when she was 16 years old.
  • Fouzia Madhouni, Morocco native and NFL Mentee in the Global Sports Mentoring Program.
  • Liz Sowers,head coach of the women's flag football team at Ottawa University, where she won the NAIA championships in her first year in 2021.
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions wide receiver and German national who speaks fluent German and French, thanks to his German-born mother.
  • Equanimeous St. Brown, Chicago Bears wide receiver who, like his brother Amon-Ra, is a German national who speaks fluent German and French.
  • Osi Umenyiora, the first British-born player to win a Super Bowl, born in London to Nigerian parents and now works to raise the profile of the game in Europe and Africa.
  • Sebastian Vollmer, NFL Legend and former New England tackle, born in Germany, who helped the Patriots to a Super Bowl XLIX title.
  • Luke Zahradka, quarterback of the Italian national flag football team. ​